The ITV Hub (formerly ITV Player) is an online video on demand service accessible through the main ITV website itv.com. The service offers a variety of programmes from homegrown programming to imports across ITV, ITV2, ITVBe, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV. Some sports programming is available to watch again via the service, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and highlights being examples. Some programmes, imports and movies are not currently available due to rights issues, and until the latest version, most children's programming in particular was generally unavailable. Programmes are available for 30 days on the site after being first shown on ITV. The service was originally called ITV Catch Up but was then rebranded 'ITV Player' on 5 December 2008 as part of ITV's aim to create a recognisable and consistent brand for video-on-demand content across the web and TV. ITV Player was also branded as ITV Net Player and referred to as the ITV Network Player in branding and communication around programming intended for consumption across the UK, such as on Virgin Media, before adopting the current name.
|Initial release||5 December 2008|
23 November 2015
|Operating system||Windows, macOS, Linux|
|Platform||Online, cable, IPTV, mobile|
|Type||Video on demand|
The service started out as a website before being extended to television and other platforms. Initially the website version used Microsoft Silverlight as opposed to Adobe Flash (used by BBC iPlayer and Channel 4's 4oD) and Windows Media Video. ITV adopted Flash for its player on 15 September 2009. In November 2009 the website was revamped again improving navigation as well as making the site more visually appealing. The service is free to use funded by pre-, mid- and post-roll adverts. Previously users have been able to use ad-blocking software to skip the adverts shown. During Summer 2010, the ITV website was upgraded to detect ad-blocking software. Video is sent at multiple bit rates and uses adaptive technology in the player to best determine rate based on users connection.
Improvements were made in June/July 2011 to the website version to incorporate subtitles and CITV programming. The website version relaunched with a cleaner, less cluttered new look on Monday 22 August 2011. The new look seamlessly fits in with the redesigned itv.com and has upgraded search features, images and a new Flash video player designed to make playback more reliable. In January 2012, the site was due to be overhauled to offer paid-for content in addition to the existing free 30-day catch up, however this was delayed until 29 October 2012.
Content that has only aired on ITV (rather than also on ITV2, 3, 4, or CITV) is only available to viewers located in ITV plc regions (in England, Wales, the Channel Islands, southern Scotland, and on UTV in Northern Ireland). If the same programme was also broadcast in central and northern Scotland, then users located in those areas may be able to view it on the catch up service of STV. The ITV Hub website will attempt to detect your location automatically, using that provided by your ISP. On 6 June 2016, ITV Hub replaced the UTV Player service in Northern Ireland, following the latter's sale to ITV plc in February 2016.
ITV brought out a paid subscription service called ITV Hub+ which enables viewers to watch and download shows without adverts. While abroad in another EU member state, subscribers will continue to receive access but will be limited to catch-up.
As of July 2017, ITV Player is available on YouView enabled Sony Bravia TVs.
In December 2008, ITV Player was added to BT TV's TV Replay service, the deal was ITV's first with a set-top-box VOD operator. It allows access to popular ITV, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 shows up to 8 days after their transmission as well as a selection of archive shows.
A place for a full version of ITV Player has been reserved on Freesat channel 903. A beta release was made available in December 2010 for Humax receivers, requiring the input of a code. The beta was made public on 26 July 2011, with support expected to be extended beyond Humax devices. On 31 July 2012, an update was released for Manhattan receivers which included support for ITV Player. In November 2012, both EchoStar and Samsung receivers also received ITV Player support. Although the ITV Hub Player app is available to viewers around the UK on multiple platforms, it is not available to Freesat viewers using second genereration Freesat receivers if their regional variation is set using postcodes starting DG or TD. It is not clear why this contradiction exists.
Now TV / Roku
On 30 January 2012, it was announced that ITV Player would be added to Sky's On Demand service on 31 January 2012. The service is accessible through the main on Demand menu as well as a dedicated ITV Player section. ITV Player initially only offered archive content, with catch-up programming becoming available on 26 September 2012.
Samsung Smart TV & Blu Ray Players
On 8 January 2009, it was announced that ITV Net Player would be added to Virgin Media's digital cable TV service. The deal allows Virgin Media's 3.5 million TV customers to view over 40 hours of programming from ITV, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 each week. Popular shows such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale are all available for seven days after being broadcast as part of Virgin Media's free Catch up TV service. The service began a three-day deployment programme on 24 February 2009. Virgin Media's viewers were able to choose from 500 hours of ITV comedies, documentaries and dramas, on demand through the TV Choice section, however the contract to supply archive content ended on 23 February 2013.
ITV Player was one of four service available at the launch of YouView in July 2012. At launch the ITV Player app contained options to resume watching recent programmes and browse by channel, day and A-to-Z, but lacked integrated search and contained non-skippable adverts. During 2013, ITV intend to introduce paid-for content into ITV Player on YouView.
ITV Player was released on 14 December 2010 on PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Network utilising the web-browser to distribute content rather than an app. It was free and ad-funded with pre-, mid- and post- roll video ads being sold and served by ITV. Under the terms of the deal with Sony, STV, UTV and Channel Television were able to add their own equivalent services so they were also accessible from the PS3 platform on a similar basis to ITV Player. After the re-brand to ITV Hub, the service is no longer available on the PS3.
Xbox One and Xbox 360
ITV Hub was launched for Xbox One on Friday 10 February 2017, this was made possible by a new Universal Windows Platform app which integrates with Windows 10 and Xbox One. The STV Player app run by STV, who currently hold the ITV licence for Scotland, has been launched on Xbox 360. The STV Player app contains much of the content found on ITV Player and requires a Scottish postcode to be entered prior to use.
On 11 May 2011, ITV chief executive Adam Crozier announced that a dedicated ITV Player application would be released on a "wide range of mobiles and tablets" during 2011. The app features programming from ITV, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 for up to seven days after broadcast. However content is only available to view in the UK and ITV programming is blocked in the STV and UTV regions. A Wi-Fi connection is also required. The mobile apps were developed by digital agency Candyspace. During 2013, ITV intend to introduce paid-for content into ITV Player across all mobile platforms.
An application for devices running Google's Android operating system was released on 20 June 2011. The app requires Android 2.2 (Froyo) or higher and Adobe AIR. Each show is broken up to feature non-skippable advert breaks. Users are forced to register an email address to use the app to allow ITV to "keep you informed about improvements and other exciting developments at ITV." On 14 January 2013, ITV Player 2.0 was released adding support for Android 3.x Gingerbread to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a re-engineered user interface.
Due to Adobe not updating support for Android, Flash is not readily available for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean so the existing ITV Player cannot be used. A new app was trialled but was only available on Samsung products and received poor reviews on Google Play Store. Upon the release of the app on 9 May 2013, Samsung entered into an exclusivity agreement with ITV, with the ITV Player app available exclusively on Samsung devices until 31 August. ITV's online product director, James Micklethwait, cited "fragmentation of the Android ecosystem" as the motive behind the deal. New ITV hub doesn't work with many android devices.
An application for Apple's iOS (iOS 4.3 or later) operating system and either the iPad (1st generation or later), iPhone (3GS or later) and iPod Touch (3rd generation or later), was launched on 1 July 2011.
In June 2013, the iOS app was updated to add a trial premium section, allowing subscribers to watch catch-up content without advertising, as well as pay to view live streams of ITV3 and ITV4. Early reviews of the updated app on the App Store were generally negative, with users commenting that the subscription option provided poor value for money.
As of May 2014 the ITV Player has been released for Windows Phone which is just like the Android and iOS versions. However, the STV Player app run by STV, who currently hold the ITV licence for Scotland, has been launched on Windows Phone. Users of the STV Player can input their postcode to verify they live in Scotland, thus allowing users who are visiting other regions of the UK, to use the app and view content. The STV Player app contains much of the content found on ITV Player.
ITV does not syndicate its content to other providers such as YouTube and SeeSaw like Channel 4 or Channel 5. Although some ITV programmes can be seen on such services, this is where these services have negotiated rights with the production companies involved and not ITV. The beta launch of the Virgin Media Player saw ITV programmes become available but Virgin Media have licensed ITV's archive (a separate service also available on ITV.com under the TV shows section) which is not currently part of the ITV Player.
Since 6 March 2018, Domino's Pizza have sponsored the ITV Hub, being the platform's first ever sponsor.
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